Monday, 14 November 2011

Family Dining at the Red Hot World Buffet

The opening night showed that the Red Hot World Buffet and Bar in Cardiff is a fun place for adults, with plenty of great food on offer, but what would children make of it? To find out, I made a return trip with my daughters (aged 8 and 15) and partner to see how it rates as a family dining experience.

Our oldest daughter has developed a taste for sushi, so Red Hot World Buffet appeared to be a winner even before we entered. The display of sushi and seafood looked very inviting through the window. The younger daughter spotted the pizzas being prepared nearby and was similarly impressed.

To start our meal, I joined our oldest in assembling a starter plate of sushi and other seafood. I can’t get as excited as her about sushi generally (too much sticky rice for me), but the shrimps and the New Zealand mussels at Red Hot are a real treat (don’t miss the little trays of mussels with buerre blanc in the European section).

After her pizza slices fresh from the pizza oven, which proved a hit, the youngest (who is also into noodles) joined me at the Teppanyaki and Noodles section, one of ten live cooking stations around the buffet. We selected, from containers in front of us, the type of noodles we wanted, then the meat and vegetables. We passed these to the chef who stir-fried them on a hot plate with our choice of sauces. As throughout the buffet, most of the counters are low so that children have no problem seeing the food. The element of theatre and having food cooked while you watch is one of the best things about this buffet experience.

Both girls also took a liking to the adjacent Tex Mex and Louisiana sections, and corn-on-the-cob, nachos, quesadillas, olives and potato wedges were all sampled approvingly (although the youngest found the Taco tray filled with chilli and sour cream a bit hot for her taste). There are also beef burgers and BBQ chicken on offer in these sections, which I recommend as a diversion for dessert-fixated kids.

My partner was keen on the salads. I had overlooked them on my previous visit, but investigation revealed a wide range of interesting salad options around the buffet. There is also a vegetarian section that is worth sampling.

I helped my eldest daughter sample a couple of flavours of small pancake hot off the griddle, although even better were the Belgian waffles on sticks - dripping with the maple syrup she had spooned on. The ice creams and sorbets did not disappoint. My favourite was the kulfi.

For her final visit to the buffet, our youngest returned with a plate of sweets. She seemed to be finding her way around, or at least finding items on the buffet invisible to adults. Apart from the plate of sweets, and one rather overloaded dessert plate, both girls made sensible choices in taste combinations (unlike some food bloggers at the opening night party!).

We were given a tour of the buffet by Saurabh Khare, who had previously worked at the Liverpool branch. The chain was started in Nottingham in 2004 by Helen and Parmjit Dhaliwal, although Saurabh reckons it was in Liverpool that things really took off. Cardiff is the seventh Red Hot Buffet and Bar to open; in three year’s time they hope to have a total of 25 restaurants like this in the UK.

Cardiff has 35 highly-qualified chefs cooking up some 300 dishes. They specialize in particular cuisines, as Saurabh points out, so chefs from Chinese backgrounds are more likely to be cooking Chinese food, and so on. Additional buffet areas have been created in Cardiff, most notably the central live dessert station where six pastry chefs work. There are some beautifully-crafted confections on show, behind the display of over thirty tempting desserts. Saurabh admiringly admits one of the chefs is a bit of an artist. Looking up, we see previously unseen chefs on a mezzanine floor preparing salads.

Saurabh says that lunchtimes and afternoons (12pm-4pm Mon-Sat) are the main times for children in the restaurant. He indicates the area where a line of pushchairs can usually be found. They have 40 highchairs stacked somewhere to cater for a rush of younger children. Families are seated downstairs, so the upper floor remains a child-free dining zone.

The buffet opens at 5pm in the evenings, and it was already packed by 5.15pm when we arrived last Friday. There were a fair number of children downstairs and red balloons were being handed out. Around the buffet, children of all ages seemed to be mainly encountered around the ice creams (15 flavours). There was a lull around 7.30pm, and then it filled up again quickly but without children. We took our well-fed offspring home soon after, planning another trip over the Christmas holidays (note: they are getting heavily booked).

I don’t want to give the impression that this is a children’s restaurant. It might not be the best place for a children’s party, for instance, whereas the place is made for office parties (all tastes and cultures catered for). Younger children also need close supervision around the buffet due to the hot food. However, children are made very welcome at Red Hot World Buffet and it provides a unique family dining experience. Best of all, it’s a great place for children to try out new types of food, which they might not have tasted before.

Red Hot World Buffet and Bar
3-6 Hills Street, St David’s Dewi Sant
Cardiff CF10 2LE

Set prices (Children under 10 eat for half price)
Lunch: Adults from £7.99 (rising to £12.99 on Sundays when they are open all day)
Dinner: Adults from £12.99 (rising to £14.99 on Friday and Saturday evenings)
You can book online:
http://www.redhot-worldbuffet.com/redhot_cardiff.html
Opening night at Red Hot World Buffet Cardiff:
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.com/2011/10/red-hot-world-buffet-cardiff.html

2 comments:

  1. I think the place is perfect to have a dinner with family.I have two sons,one is 5 years old and another is 9 year old.Hope,they will like this place.I am planing to visit the place on this coming weekend.

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